For the past year or more of campaigning, we have been bombarded daily with news about our nation’s terrible economic condition.
Here in California, we’ve seen our property values plummet and our fuel prices soar to record levels over the summer. Now our unemployment rates are skyrocketing and our state government is on the brink of bankruptcy due to overwhelming deficit spending.
In other corners of our nation, the story is being repeated in varying degrees: factories are closing, workers are being laid off, and families are losing their homes while elderlies watch their retirement funds evaporate in an ever volatile stock market.
It was said of the Titanic that even God couldn’t sink it. With a similar mentality, our politicians almost weekly pass out freshly minted dollars in Washington, D.C. to trick-or-treating bankers and businessmen from companies said to be “too big to fail.”
But is the United States itself too big to fail?
As a nation, we have forgotten where success and failure come from. That is no more evident than in our recent Thanksgiving holiday.
I was watching President Bush pardon his final turkeys the other morning. It was an entirely appropriate picture of what our nation has become: two birds treated as imaginary people to be transported in first-class luxury to a magical kingdom where they will host the Disneyland parade.
Then President Bush profusely uttered his “thank you’s” to everyone—everyone except our Father in Heaven. Perhaps he reasoned that expressing gratitude to God might offend. More’s the pity.
But President Bush is not alone. On the front page of the Thanksgiving edition of our local newspaper were portraits of fifty-three local citizens, along with their Thanksgiving wishes. Only three mentioned God.
Thanksgiving is only a shell of what it once was or should be. Now it is merely one more excuse for stuffing our faces with turkey and pie, then zoning out in front of the television. And, of course, prepping for the “scratch-and-claw-for-stuff-you-don’t-need-and-really-can’t-afford-sales” the morning after. I read this morning about a man trampled to death at a Wal-Mart by herds of stampeding shoppers. Too bad for him1.
Today the noble holiday is a joke and an embarrassment.
Contrast how we celebrate Thanksgiving with President Lincoln’s proclamation that created this national holiday. While he enumerated national blessings of prosperity, the entirety of his address was directed to attribute those gifts to “Almighty God.”
To me, the most stirring part of his tribute were the last two paragraphs:
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
Would a President in any venue utter such words today without merciless persecution by the media?
We have forgotten where success and prosperity come from. They come not from human counsel or the device of mortal hands, but from adhering to the timeless principles of divine revelation, among which are justice, mercy, and honesty—all of which are in short supply these days.
Failure, on the other hand, is the inevitable consequence of disregarding his laws.
For a faithful Christian, every day is a tribute to our heavenly Father and a day of thanksgiving. A national holiday is not required.
As a nation, however, might I suggest we read and meditate on Amos chapter 4;.
But not to worry. All is not bleak. Hope and change is on the way.
And I hear they have all the printing presses at the U.S. Treasury Department cranked up and ready to go, ready to print as much money as needed to get us through these tough times.
After all, the United States is just too big to fail.
1 This is sarcasm. I am very sad for his tragedy and his family’s loss.